Archive for October, 2010

Direct Care Workers & Allies Advocating Together: Voices Institute model trains leaders in Wisconsin

Posted by on October 25th, 2010 at 1:43 pm | 2 Comments »

This is a guest post from John Shaw, Community Outreach/Advocacy at the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.

This year, the Direct Care Alliance’s Voices Institute, the Wisconsin Board for People with Disabilities (BPDD), and the Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance launched an exciting new initiative called Advocacy Voices Together – a unique training program for people who want to improve the lives of direct care workers and the people they support.

An inspiration for this project, the Voices Institute gathers direct care workers from across the country to learn leadership and advocacy skills.  BPDD and WIDCA recognized a need in the community to develop these skills in direct care allies, uniting stakeholders to call for change.  With this in mind, the three organizations launched Advocacy Voices Together to do just that.

Anne Rabin (right) and daughter Emily create an action plan for continuing to advocate along with a family member living with disabilities.

During the training event, direct care workers and people who receive long-term care services  worked together in teams to learn advocacy and leadership skills.  The group learned how to build support for better wages, benefits and working conditions for workers, and how to advocate for family members and self advocates with disabilities. The training incorporated the core curriculum of DCA’s Voices Institute, along with key principles from disability community self advocacy.

“This is another huge milestone for the Voices Institute,” said Tracy Dudzinksi, Vice Chair of the DCA Board of Directors, Chair of the Board for the Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance, and President of the Board for Cooperative Care in Wisconsin. Continue reading »

From the Consumer Voice Conference: Direct care workers essential to quality care in nursing homes

Posted by on October 25th, 2010 at 1:22 pm | 1 Comment »

Helen Hanson

Last week, I got to attend the National Consumer Voice Annual Conference, which brought together ombudsman programs; advocates for long-term care, including a lot of attorneys; family members of those receiving long-term care; and workers and worker advocates from all over the country. There were also folks from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

We learned that the Older Americans Act (OAA) is due for reauthorization in 2011.  The reauthorization of the OAA provides an opportunity to reshape and modernize aging services. The OAA was originally signed into law back in 1965, and we’ve come a long way since then. Participants discussed what should be included in the reauthorization, and Official Listeners from the Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Administration on Aging in DHHS joined the group to learn more.

During this session, we discussed the baby boomers fast approaching their senior years.  In other words, we’re going to need a strong direct care workforce to take care of them. Something is going to have to be done to attract more people into the field of care giving. In fact, more direct care workers than teachers will be needed in the near future. Continue reading »

Improving Worker Jobs to Meet Consumer Demand

Posted by on October 25th, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Comments Off on Improving Worker Jobs to Meet Consumer Demand

Sharon Brothers

You might not be currently experiencing a workforce crisis in your company or community. With the current economy, many people are worried about job security. They’re not looking at the want ads so much as being thankful for the jobs they have. But even today we have unfilled caregiving positions nationwide.  And the gap between trained, prepared workers and the positions we need filled is only projected to widen in the coming years.

By 2030, the number of older adults will nearly double from the 2005 count, and will increase from 12 percent of the US population to nearly 20%. Some employers are thinking – great! No more vacancies! We can even build more communities, and they will come! But what about the staff? Who will be around to provide care in our very full communities? Continue reading »

Easy Steps to Keeping it Green: From one home care worker to another

Posted by on October 18th, 2010 at 10:31 am | Comments Off on Easy Steps to Keeping it Green: From one home care worker to another

Helen Hanson

When I’m with a consumer in their home, I look for easy ways to help the environment that won’t upset them. In fact, I do many of these things in my own home. It is all about using less electricity and reducing waste, thereby reducing costs. Most of what you do in a consumer’s home requires authorization from your agency and permission from your consumer, but here are a few easy things that you can do to help our environment. You can also put these suggestions to use in your own home.

  • Use cold water when doing the laundry and then hang the wash outside to dry. It comes out so clean and smells fresh.
  • Cover those pots while cooking vegetables or pasta. Keeping the heat in takes less electricity.
  • Make sure to unplug all chargers that you use for computers, cell phones, mp3 players, etc.

Download the free tip sheet for more ways to keep it green!

From the Marine Corps to Direct Care

Posted by on October 18th, 2010 at 9:12 am | 4 Comments »

This is a guest post from Keith Meyers, a direct care worker in Pennsylvania.

I have been a direct care worker for 17 years, but when I started, I didn’t know it would become a life-long career.  I had served in the Marine Corps and came upon an opening for direct care with the career services office, but I wasn’t sure that it was the job for me at first. As I contemplated this decision, a friend suggested that this work, caring for others, might make me a better father. And so, I began my career. Watch my video interview below:

Fair Wages for Home Care Workers on Job Talk America

Posted by on October 18th, 2010 at 8:57 am | 1 Comment »

Judi Conti of the National Employment Law Project visits online radio talk show Job Talk America to discuss minimum wage and overtime protections for home care workers.

OSHA Should Include Direct Care Workers in Injury & Illness Prevention Program

Posted by on October 12th, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Comments Off on OSHA Should Include Direct Care Workers in Injury & Illness Prevention Program

Jane Lipscomb

I recently represented the DCA in Washington DC on a Federal OSHA meeting to obtain input on a proposed regulation to require an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. I urged OSHA to include direct care workers in the scope of the proposed standard. Other worker advocates at the meeting also spoke on behalf of broad coverage for all workers across all types of workplace. A description of the proposed rule follows:

OSHA is developing a rule requiring employers to implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. It involves planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that protect employee safety and health. OSHA has substantial data on reductions in injuries and illnesses from employers who have implemented similar effective processes. The Agency currently has voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines (54 FR 3904-3916), published in 1989. Continue reading »

New York’s Home Care Education Fund Achieves Nonprofit Status

Posted by on October 12th, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Comments Off on New York’s Home Care Education Fund Achieves Nonprofit Status

This is a guest post from Faith Wiggins, Director of the 1199SEIU Homecare Education Fund.

1199SEIU home care workers provide essential services to thousands of elderly, infirm and disabled New Yorkers each and every day. Their work allows home care clients to live independently in the comfort and safety of their own homes. The 1199SEIU Bill Michelson Home Care Education Fund helps workers obtain the education they need to improve their careers and to enhance the quality of services they provide. The Fund gives home care workers access to a wide range of programs and services so they can improve English language skills, earn GEDs, prepare for college entrance exams, attend college, and take professional development courses. Continue reading »

Health Voucher Program Helps Mainers Afford Insurance

Posted by on October 12th, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Comments Off on Health Voucher Program Helps Mainers Afford Insurance

A few weeks ago, Ted Rippy and I attended a press conference at the Muskie School of Public Service in Portland, ME. In attendance was Governor John E. Baldacci, who is endorsing the Dirigo health voucher program. He discussed the struggles of home health workers and how they have not been able to maintain health insurance for themselves or their families. We were also joined by Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform in Washington, DC.

Jimmie Chandler, Gov. Baldacci and Ted Rippy

DeParle recognized Maine’s leadership organizations for taking early steps in implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010. These efforts have made it possible for people who live in Maine to afford the medical insurance they desperately need – like Monique Kenyon and her husband Ed, who receives life-saving chemotherapy medical treatment, and John O’Boyle, who is receiving treatment for his high blood pressure. These good people stood and told their stories at the event.

Ted and I introduced ourselves to the Governor and DeParle, expressing the support of Maine PASA and the Direct Care Alliance for the Dirigo health voucher program for direct care workers in Maine. Continue reading »

Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association to Launch Philadelphia Chapter

Posted by on October 12th, 2010 at 1:02 pm | 2 Comments »

In July, I attended a Voices Institute training in Pennsylvania to develop my leadership skills and learn more about how to make my voice heard on local and national issues impacting my job and my consumers.  Getting involved with DCA and my state association has been a godsend, because I realized that I have the ability and talent to make a difference.  After the workshop, I joined a leadership circle – along with Clara Glenn, Margaret Beringer, Rolanda Crawley, and Soon Hong – to build a chapter of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association (PDCWA) in the Philadelphia region. We’ve been making progress with the help of the PDCWA and the Direct Care Alliance, and are kicking off the launch on October 21 with an event in Philadelphia! Download the flyer and email Roy Gedat at to RSVP.

Recently, I sat down with DCA’s Leonila Vega to talk about why I got involved with my state association and DCA. Watch the interview below:

Iowa State Football Coach Thanks Direct Care Workers

Posted by on October 1st, 2010 at 10:00 am | Comments Off on Iowa State Football Coach Thanks Direct Care Workers

Iowa State University football coach, Paul Rhoads, pays tribute to direct care workers in a new public service announcement for the Iowa Caregivers Association.

Why Do I Chose Direct Care? Hint: It’s not for the money!

Posted by on October 1st, 2010 at 9:28 am | 1 Comment »

Tina Tilley

My name is Tina Tilley and I am a direct support professional.  I have experience in a wide variety of areas in direct care, from working with the elderly to those living with intellectual disabilities.  I have worked in many settings including home health, institutional, AFC homes, and industrial.  However, my passion is for the intellectually disabled in a home setting.  It gives me great satisfaction to help those whom society has cast away live as much of a normal life as possible.

Not too long ago, there were some negative things said in our local newspaper concerning the AFC homes in our area.  This led a few members of the community (and even the commander of the local State Police branch) to make some very irresponsible statements in regards to the staff of these AFC homes.  In turn, I was prompted to write a letter to the editor in our defense.  The editor turned it into a “guest column” and it was printed in its entirety.

An excerpt from my column: Continue reading »

Florida Eldercare Workforce Finds Unified Voice; Helps Lead Call for Change

Posted by on October 1st, 2010 at 9:17 am | Comments Off on Florida Eldercare Workforce Finds Unified Voice; Helps Lead Call for Change

This is a guest post from Terry Bucher, Founder & President Emeritus of the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers.

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to be a part of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance Hill Day in Washington, DC. I had the chance to speak out on behalf of eldercare issues, especially as they pertain to the direct care workforce. My participation this year was a direct result of having accepted an invitation from the Direct Care Alliance, one of the 28 national associations that make up the Eldercare Workforce Alliance.

In preparation for the trip, I familiarized myself with EWA & DCA’s current legislative agenda and drafted comments to share in my visits to the legislative offices. EWA arranged appointments with Florida’s congressional agenda in the House and Senate and partnered participants from individual states to meet with our legislators or their assistants. The wisdom of this approach proved very effective and fruitful as all levels of the eldercare workforce teamed together to present a unified front on geriatric health care. Together, we expressed the immediate importance of the needs of the elderly – the fastest growing segment of our population.

Our Florida team included Dr. Hugh Thomas, President of the Florida Medical Directors Association; Patricia Wallace, ARNP, V.P. of the FL Chapter of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurse Association; Dr. Lisa Brown, Associate Professor; Dr. Katheryn Hyer, Director of FL Policy Exchange Center On Aging; and me, founder of the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers (FPACG).

EWA Visit

(L to R): Lisa Brown, Terry Bucher, Charles Cooper, Hugh Thomas, Denise Gammonley, Kathryn Hyer, and Patricia Wallace

We had less than an hour to prepare as a team for our legislative visits, but our presentations to each office reflected the passion and dedication of each team member to their various disciplines pertaining to eldercare. The Senate was in session and the House was not meeting until the following day, thus our appointments were with staff members in each office. Each member of the team volunteered to be the opening lead for a session. I was first-up for our 9am appointment as we visited the offices of Congressman Adam Putnam, my representative in the 12th District of Florida. Continue reading »